When a husband and wife went to see a documentary together, they never thought they’d be in it. But, as they stared up at the screen, they saw themselves staring back. Much to their surprise, they had been caught on camera 50 years before and never imagined the footage would make its way into the public spotlight half a century later.
Judy and Jerry Griffin decided there was no better way to commemorate the 50 long and wonderful years they had spent together than by going to view a PBS documentary on Woodstock. After all, the couple had met on their way to the legendary music festival that took place in upstate New York in 1969.
The day before the historic event, where a half-million people gathered to rock out for days, Judy’s car broke down on New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge, roughly 90 miles from the concert grounds. When she and the two acquaintances she was traveling with decided to hitchhike, she had no idea the decision would shape the rest of her life.
“I was just thinking, ‘Damn, now we can’t go,’ and we were dying to,” a now-71-year-old Judy recalled, according to People. “Then Jerry and his friends pulled up. I stuck my head in and I saw that there was a woman in the car. I’d never hitchhiked before, but I figured, ‘Well, since there was a woman, it was fairly safe, and I probably should just get in the car.'”
As fate would have it, Jerry and his buddies gave Judy and her friends a ride to the festival in the back of a 1967 VW Beetle, and there was an instant connection between the two. “I thought, ‘Okay, this is definitely unusual. We just picked up this really cute girl. And, I’m going to Woodstock, and I’ve got a tent, and she doesn’t,'” Jerry, 72, explained with a laugh.
“By the time we got out of the car and set up camp, we were into each other, and we basically were together from that point on,” Judy explained. After the three day festival, Judy and Jerry didn’t part ways. Instead, the two, both native New Yorkers, discovered that they had a lot in common, including a desire to go to California. So, five months after the festival, they packed up a VW bus and drove cross-country to Los Angeles, where Jerry was starting law school.
They tied the knot, had two sons, and even welcomed five grandchildren into the world, eventually settling in Manhattan Beach, where they’ve lived for the last 40 years. Although they married in December of 1975, they never celebrate that anniversary. “We always celebrate August 15th — which is also my birthday and the day we met as our anniversary,” Judy explained. So, Judy and Jerry Griffin had a special reason to celebrate Woodstock’s 50th anniversary — they considered it their 50th anniversary too.
After half a century, Judy and Jerry were still together, but there was one thing missing. Sadly, they didn’t have a single picture of themselves at the festival, where their love story began. For decades, they scoured any footage of Woodstock that they could find, but never once uncovered any proof that they had been there together. That would all change when they went to see the PBS documentary titled, “Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation,” marking the anniversary of the event.
“There we are!” Judy screamed as she watched a clip about a sudden rainstorm that occurred during the festival, according to Inside Edition. Indeed, there on the screen was a much younger Judy and Jerry, rain-soaked and wrapped in a blanket.
“That’s us. That was it, that was the first time, the only time, that we’ve only seen a photograph of us at Woodstock, and we’ve been looking,” Jerry said, recalling the moment he saw the photo that had captured their obvious affection for each other from the very beginning of their relationship.
Now, when they share their fairy tale love story with family and friends, they have the picture to prove it. “It feels wonderful [to have found it],” Judy admitted. “Now, we can prove it,” she said, referring to the story they often tell about how they met.
“We both had cameras, but neither of us took any pictures,” Jerry Griffin said. “For 50 years we’ve been looking for a picture of ourselves, and out of the blue one shows up,” he added. “We’d known each other [for] less than 48 hours when that was taken.”
Little did those two 22-year-olds know then how symbolic their loving embrace would be. They shielded each other from the rain, weathering the storm together, and found warmth and comfort in one another’s arms. It’s likely something they have figuratively done often in their many decades as husband and wife, and it’s the very thing that keeps couples together.